x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

The British Open holds special link with golfers

So many golfers have painful memories at The British Open, but they always come back to try and conquer the event.

Falling second to Tiger Woods in 2005 at St Andrews has followed Colin Montgomerie.
Falling second to Tiger Woods in 2005 at St Andrews has followed Colin Montgomerie.

Fans rarely remember who finished second. So you would be forgiven for not remembering that in the past 10 years the following golfers were all runners-up at the British Open: Colin Montgomerie, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn and Chris DiMarco.

The reason to bring these players to the fore is that they have been reduced to qualifying for this year's British Open at Royal St Georges. None are in the top 50 of the world rankings, and as they did not quite get to drink from the Claret Jug they do not automatically get a pass into the field as a past winner.

So they have to put themselves through the indignity of qualifying. This has already provided heartache for Garcia, a play-off loser at Carnoustie in 2007 to Padraig Harrington, as he pulled out of Sunday's American qualifying at the Gleneagles Club in Texas after four holes with an injured finger.

As for the others, they will be at Sunningdale on England's Kent coast on June 6 to fight it out for the 10 places up for grabs and are sure to be joined by a few more well-known names.

Failure is humiliating. The record of Montgomerie, beaten by Woods at St Andrews in 2005, is spectacular. Singh is a three-time major winner, who along with the talented Bjorn lost out to Ben Curtis by one at Royal St Georges in 2003.

So if this tournament holds so many bad memories for this six, then why put themselves through so much just to be in England when the first ball is hit on July 10?

The best person to answer this is David Love, the United States' newly appointed Ryder Cup captain, who dug deep to qualify in Texas.

"I just wanted to be there when the Open took place," he said. "I couldn't bear the thought of the tournament going ahead and I was stuck at home, watching on television. This will be my 25th consecutive appearance in this championship and I'm so proud of that record.

"This is the one I always wanted to win. For me, this is the tournament. It's the one every player wants to win. To play links golf in front of a British crowd is a special thing. I have always enjoyed it and I feel at home there."

There is something special about the Open. Even when the wind is howling and the rain off the sea threatens to tear the skin away, no golfer would rather be anywhere else than Sandwich, Kent for the 140th British Open.

ncameron@thenational.ae